Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Unbeaten Path

Our children are seen and VERY heard. In fact, they are loud. And no matter how much we might want to pull our hair out, spanking or any physical punishment is by no means an option.

We’re a different breed of parents. We’ve morphed from the “Obey your mother and father” doctrine and found a new unbeaten path. We might find it a little muddy sometimes, but we don’t look back. We grew up in homes where democracy was laughed at. It was a dictatorship, with a parent as the leader. We didn’t question, we didn’t express our opinions, rather we saved it for a time when we were “rebellious teens,” our parents found they couldn’t control us and we finally found our voice.

We had our babies and we looked at them with humility. We saw them as precious beings, new here, but old in spirit, we saw them as knowledgeable, as wise, and we saw an opportunity for us to learn from them how to love and live simply. We wanted to see the world with their wonder.

 We don’t want to crush them. We don’t ask them to conform to what others think is the right way. We don’t ask them what they want to do when they grow up, as we’ve decided they can be and do everything and anything. Our boys can wear dresses and paint their rooms pink, our girls can too... or they can shave their heads, skateboard, and paint their rooms blue. We’ve gotten rid of stereotypes, and have-tos.  We want to enjoy our time with our kids as it seems to go so quickly.

Yet, yes there are days that the noise and commotion can have us more dazed than a stun gun. We love the idea of a team, a family unit, working together for a common good, but our children often don’t understand the philosophy. When being born into an unrestricted environment, where rules are limited and fun encouraged, its understandable why chaos can sometimes be the result and yet we plod on, sure that it can’t be that far left to have just a happy go lucky family who gets along.

They aren’t always the serene angels that we held in our arms that first day. They decide they like to play rough and can karate chop as if they are reincarnations of Bruce Lee, even though we’ve never exposed them to it. They talk back to us, and make us feel silly, knowing just how to expose our insecurities and yet they don’t mean it, just speaking their mind. You know, like we weren’t suppose to. We see it as rebellion or bad behavior, but remind ourselves to wait for it to pass. Things pass through stages... right. It’s not about control we spit through our clenched teeth.

We lose it sometimes. We feel guilty when we raise our voice, yet wonder if the power struggle still exists, as our children can shout without remorse. We encourage communication, we talk about feelings. We remember watching Mr. Rogers and tip our hats off to him for making it look so easy.
But we know who they are. They aren’t little devils as our parents might think, they are explorers and adventurers. They bring us wild weed bouquets and tell us it will all be alright when they see us stressed. They give chubby arm hugs and tell us we’re the best in the world. They aren’t filled with anger. They aren’t brats. They are living in a playful moment, which sometimes goes wrong. It is a life of learning.
But then our children grow. They grow and as they grow they get interested in new things. Suddenly it’s not about running around wildly, tracking mud through the house and catching ladybugs as pets. We find ourselves with a moment, when remarkably everyone is in their own beds, reading to themselves or playing quietly, dreaming their own dreams. We find ourselves peeking into their rooms to see them happy and content, or spying on them while they are with friends seeing them take part in the world with a sense of self confidence and clarity like we never had.

And then it happens. They friend us on Facebook, they come in to chat about whatever is on their mind. We are their confidant, their friend and their sound box. We listen and suggest, antidote our own mistakes and support them through theirs. We see them as a friend. We request help for a happy home, which they agree to, because they know the concept of a team effort for a common goal.

It’s an unbeaten path, without a map or guide book. It has no guide for one main reason. We knew it the first time we looked into their eyes. We are each our own individual selves and our children are their own selves too. We, like any relationship, are people who are on the journey of life together. Therefore, our journey, together, is the unmarked territory, that we get to discover, together.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review- Exploring Nature with Children (a homeschooling curriculum)

When I usually review something I tend to complete it first and review it after... it’s probably considered the usual process or many.
But today I want to tell you about something my children and I are excited about incorporating into our homeschooling this year, starting next week! I encourage you to check it out as well and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a discount code at the end of this post.
Lynn Seddon’s Exploring Nature with children is more than a book nature study- rather it is a full year’s worth of nature curriculum from September to August, with a plethora of crafts, projects and poetry, interwoven with scientific facts and nature journaling as well as the weekly nature walk. It’s all so well planned out, focused and... incredible. The things that homeschooling moms dreams are made of.
Broken down in weeks, it covers everything from Harvest Moon to Summer Pond Studies as well as the Solistices, the Equinoxes and Christmas and Candlemas.
This is a beautiful course of study and suitable for any age (I personally can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.) With weekly themed poetry and art woven in seamlessly to the focus of the week along with age appropriate crafts and a selection of projects to chose from, the course is well thought out and easy to offer to your children.
Seddon suggests picking a special spot to visit each week to observe changes through the year and record them in a nature journal. She also suggests having a nature table back home to bring small findings and treasures. I had used a nature table with our daughters when they were younger and I am really looking forward to offering the experience to our son. We used to decorate and brainstorm around topics, creating pieces of art inspired by the nature table itself. I think with the addition of the classical poem and suggested work of art within the curriculum, the nature table could be an endless form of entertainment and education.
The Curriculum is written with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of homeschooling, which I have to claim a little bit of ignorance on, but I know it is classically minded with a focus on literature and art. This is sewn seamlessly through the curriculum and from what I can see the study of it will open many doors for children over years to come.
Homeschooling or not I feel it would provide a lovely and educated family experience. I am intending this to be a weekend form of study for us. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Now, just as a warning the curriculum is in a PDF format as a book, so marking it and keeping your place takes some planning. (but everything else is planned out for the user, so that’s really nothing compared to other curriculum... she even has a list of supplies before each term. )But there’s always printing it out and putting it in a binder. I think I’ll probably just keep notes of my own on page numbers etc and for the price of $15, you really can’t go wrong for a fantastic year long curriculum.
 AND... enjoy a 30% discount with the code EN15 until Sept 30th

One note, Lynn is from the UK which has a slightly different climate than our Nova Scotia. I somehow doubt studying earth worms anytime before May and with our current climate change I don’t even know if winter will be fully here in December, but one never knows. It might take some shuffling projects about, but that’s alright. It all provides more learning curves and lessons in natural adaptation!
Grab the book here and don’t forget... get it by Sept 30 for the 30% discount!
And I’d love to hear your experiences after you’ve tried it. I’ll be sharing mine!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Natural parenting.

So there’s natural parenting and then there’s Natural Parenting.... as in how they parent in nature.

6 weeks ago we became the proud grandparents to four kittens. Their birth was momentous, with mom cat (Paws) having no clue what was happening and leaving her first born on the steps as she ran around the house in a panic. Luckily my husband, who has helped 2 of our children and a couple of goat kids arrive earthside, scooped up little FB (first born... but who now is known as Facebook oddly enough) cleared her face and woke her up and then called over mommy cat to show her what was happening. Once mom saw FB her face literally lit up and she excitedly ran to her “nest” in the kennel we’d set up for her and successfully, and happily, birthed the other three.

Mom Cat, or Paws, has been one of those focus-less cats. She was picked up with her two siblings for our farm 3 years ago and our eldest daughter took her under wing, but then an adopted stray caught our daughter’s attention and Paws became the family’s cat... or no one’s. She ate what we put down and wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone. And then, she fell in love. She snuck out one morning and her lover came... along with a rival. Poor Paws lost her innocence and came home which was suddenly her sense of security.
A few months later, FB was being left on the stairs in confusion... much like Paws’ life. But then... with one glance... clarity and focus.
For the first week and a half Paws was on duty. She never left her kittens, except for a moment to go to the litter or grab a quick bite. The minute she heard stirring she was back to her babies. As her kitties would fall asleep while feeding, I was struck with how many times my babies had fallen asleep at my breast in the same way, how they looked punch drunk from milk and how Paws was in that euphoric state of mommy bliss that comes for those first few days.

(I often talk about that post birth period, when the pregnancy is in the past and the future doesn’t seem important. I think the moments after birth and those first few days are some of the most present, magical and spiritual moments I’ve ever experienced. There seems to be a quiet, conscious contentment that settles in the air.)

After that first week and a half, Paws looked more to self care. It had turned extra hot, so she shifted to finding comfort sitting outside the kennel, where the babies were starting to pull themselves around, with their eyes shut and their curiosity peaking. Sometimes one of our children would be watching them from outside the kennel as well, and Paws would leave for a few minutes to stretch her legs, leaving my children in charge of hers.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched Paws in awe, as she weaves in and out of her children’s explorations. They now run and play all over the place, and Paws sits in the middle of the room, mindfully knowing her children’s whereabouts, but waiting until she’s needed to interfere. If she thinks one of them is in trouble, you can hear her meowing away, telling them to find her. If they need help, she’s by their side. She has truly become the epitome of a positive parent... who is encouraging her children to be independent, yet surrounding them with love and security as she offers them tools to excel.

Natural Parenting is being given too many rules, too many restrictions. It’s not about what carrier you use, or what words and phrases you say. It’s about keeping things simple.

We need to love our children and lovingly offer them tools to have a happy life and to be the best of themselves. We don’t need to punish them or control them into becoming the version WE want them to be and we don’t need to hover over them, making sure everything goes their way. We don’t need to leave them to their own devices, without any sense of security to build them up stronger. Rather, life is simple balance. Watching them and allowing them space to grow, learn and Be. Being there for help, security and play and Loving them, from afar or from up close, or with that blissful connection as they fall asleep in our paws... I mean arms.

I was so nervous about having these kittens. I raised my hands to the universal powers and exclaimed “WHY?!” But, I’m so thankful I didn’t follow the advice of others and found a way of stopping the experience. I have watched a spirit focus into her dream, I have watched maternal instincts and love blossom before my eyes. I have witnessed how parenting is defined in nature and how, in all simplicity, love and respect spreads across all species... yet as humans, we tend to make it all more complicated then it needs to be.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

THE ART KIT- a review

Sometimes things just line up.
My daughters have been wanting to improve their art techniques. I’ve been wanting to improve their art education. And then there’s boy-o. He suddenly LOVES art, so that needs encouraging and new supplies. Well, I didn’t even know that we were focusing in that direction, but when I heard about the Art Kit and was suddenly, seamlessly doing a review of one of the kits, it was obvious the Universe knows what its doing.
The shrieks of “THE ART KIT” coming from the children when it arrived was only topped by the “Ohs and Ahs” when they opened the box.
It suddenly made sense for a kit that is about ART to be beautiful. This taught me a lot about Art as an experience, just opening the box.
With Tissue paper and lots of shredded purple and white stripes of naturally dyed heavy stock paper, the children enthusiastically unwrapped each, paperbag wrapped item. And what beautifully chose items.
The Art Kit isn’t just about Making Art, this is about art appreciation and experience.
When you subscribe, each month your child receives a box like one of these, and each box has its own theme. Our box was themed with Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jette painting.
In our box of wonders was a Puzzle, sticker books (with reusable stickers), natural paint sachets wit circle sponges to imitate Seurat’s circle techniques, circle stickers to do a circle (dotted) painting, a book about George Seurat and various Art Kit Pencils and heavy stock paper and  accessories.
As we have three children, we had the kit and two more sibling add-ons, basically providing each child with their own supplies for the crafts, but sharing the puzzle and the book. It worked perfectly.
The experience of this kit, and art itself, has been very well thought out. Each item helps you experience the painting a little deeper from different angles. As a homeschooler I found it balanced, as with three children, all different ages and learning types, I was surprised how all three were interested. I would possibly say the kit would work best for the 7-11 age range, as I watched my children work through it, but all three were well occupied and I can tell came out of it looking at art in a different light.
One thing I will point out. Although it’s called The ART KIT, this isn’t what we perceive as an art kit. It is a Kit ABOUT ART (I like how when I explained this to my family they all did a unison “OHHH” and agreed from that perspective it was a masterpiece in itself. Think of it as art education for children in a box, a box that has lots of ways for them to get into a technique, an artist and a piece with all their senses.
It reminds us all that art is an experience and from the moment The Art Kit arrives at the door, you and your children will be enjoying the ride.
Now... all I have to do to top the experience off is find a copy of Sunday in the Park with George by Sondheim  so the children can have some follow up to these wonderful projects!

Now here’s one of my daughters reviews;

I love the way that the art kit is packaged so carefully and beautifully. It’s really inspiring.
The Make-a- masterpiece sticker book helped me learn a lot about the painting. I love how this kit is so freely put together. The puzzle was a bit easy for me, but that is a good thing because it meant my brother was interested in doing it. I love the way the paints slide over the paper. I never would have thought that natural paints would be that bright.

My son... he gave it a zillion stars out of 5.

Check out for more information!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finding my connection within pregnancy

It was our boy’s birthday yesterday. Six. Wow. Six years since the moon was my midwife and we welcomed him into the world.
I often like to write on the birthdays of our children. They are like my own personal days of celebration. Little white flags that cheer my personal journey of parenthood. I don’t make any outside show for myself, just little inner shouts of joy and a bit of reflection of the trip so far. It’s been good. It is good. So Good.
Our boy’s birth though. His is a personal triumph. His was when I finally shook my pre-determined concepts of how it was suppose to be, and went a more inward, contemplative, meditative, Spiritually Aware Route. From the moment he was conceived, our boy was my teacher.
Six years and nine months ago, I was stressed, distressed, and overwhelmed. Our girls were five and six, just starting homeschooling, my husband was renovating our home and we had a small homesteading farm, my family was having problems too so I was on the phone to my parents, siblings and friends all the time. I was excited to be pregnant, but scared too. I kept thinking that surely all this would result in a miscarriage or some emergency.
5 years before our daughter had been born quickly at home and then rushed to the hospital... for no apparent reason except for being a bit early. I guess homebirths just weren’t the thing eleven years ago in Canada. Upon arrival they prodded and injected against our will, she then ended up in the ICU for 2 weeks. It was the worst 14 days of my life. I felt voiceless, and guideless. I couldn’t find the space to tap into the Source of wellbeing I had always known. The dark pit had me scared and overwhelmed. It was isolating. Our older daughter was only ten months (Irish twins as they say) So I went through the motions... aware only of my unawareness.
When I found out I was pregnant again those five years later, I wanted it different... and then I found myself snowed under in circumstance. Within a few months of teeter tottering I decided to rise above it all and trust in my dearest Source.
 I found a sense of trinity with me, my son, and Source Energy/God. Suddenly I could know all was well. When I fell into worrying  about how things were, I received a kick from our boy. When I was stressed and unfocused I got two kicks. Little reminders that it was the moment that mattered. That my imagination could be used for positive outcomes and that appreciation and awareness created magic. Together we connected and pondered life mysteries. We played, we laughed and I started to see the world through his sense of reality. It was beautifully exhilarating.
When I greeted our son early in the morning on July 8th, there were so many things which could have been focused on.  I could have been scared or panicky, I could have wrapped my mind around organizing or worrying about our daughters who were a little freaked, or I could have doubted the wellness of everything and questioned everything that had gone before. But instead I’ll never forget the moment I saw him.
It was like greeting a good friend. I recognized him and he did me as well.
I shouted out “my boy, there’s my boy.”
And from his essence he seemed to exude the statement. “I told you all would be well.”
With the birth of our son, the concepts of Spiritually Aware Parenting were born.
Find Connection within yourself first, and then you can find incredible, extraordinary connections with your children. It is a cycle of love.
So often we all go about it the opposite way; worrying about our children which knocks us off axis and disconnects us from our instincts... preventing ourselves from sensing what our children really need.
I’m in the midst of fine-tuning my coaching packages as well as sorting out my SAP Summer Challenge and in doing so I found myself asking what drove me to do my pregnancy package. Funny how I should ask myself this so near the anniversary of my boy’s birth... for there was the answer in front of me.
Often life is chaotic and speeding all around us. The difference finding that connection brings is magical. I experienced it firsthand. But often it felt delusional. Often it felt silly to not just give in to the fear and reality, the upsets and stresses and feel tossed about on the sea of unknowingness.. If I had had someone who would have told me- Go for it. Trust the Connection-meditate on your breath, focus your thoughts, Connect to all you are. talk to your baby, relate to him. I wouldn’t have had so many moments of feeling unprepared or isolated. Even during his birth I swayed from fear to love and back again. The moon was my midwife only as it was the focus I shifted to as I looked at her out the window and surrendered. It’s in the trust and faith of wellbeing and love that creates more of the same and when we are enthralled by that Power of Divinity and Love... oh each experience is amplified by millions.
That’s why I do what I do. I love seeing parents feel that connection with their unborn child, I love hearing them sigh in relief of feeling the fear lift, even for enough time to seek a new perspective. I love people seeing their pregnancy as a transformation, not just for their growing baby, but for them; a time to define and fine tune themselves and focus their intentions. Life is a magical winding path, with adventure everywhere. Pregnancy is always proof of that.

So, I guess on this sixth birthday of our boy I need to thank him. He taught me so much and still does and he will forever be that little baby, giving me a little nudge telling me to trust and all is well.

Christina Fletcher's pregnancy book is available on her website or through Amazon and other
online bookstores

Monday, July 6, 2015

The six year old philosopher

Its two days before he turns six. Am I allowed to take a moment? Sigh.
Six is such a big thing for me. It’s the space between little boy and boy. It’s when he’s suddenly expected to help a bit more, be a bit more thoughtful, more considerate. It’s when he graduates to full team member. There are benefits and definite drawbacks for the youngest of a family.
Lying in bed being put to sleep he asks the question that always sparks a new phase in my book. He’s been making the six transition in so many ways lately... but tonight he crossed over.
“Mom, I don’t get it. Who made the first person?”
Thank our pregnant kitty cat for teaching him the birds and the bees young. Farm life is always such a great source of information.
Not wanting to influence his sense of ancestry and knowing that he was probably closer to knowing the answer than “grown ups” I simply answered with a “There’s a lot of different ideas, what do you think?”
He paused thoughtfully watching his fish.
“I think God married someone and then people were made.” Another pause. “Nah, I think probably God made us, He can do anything.”
Now I’m going to interrupt here for a second. Our little (not so little) boy has an interesting concept of God. We’ve kept the concept of God general, without doctrine, allowing everyone to have their own relationship, their own ah-ha discovery. We’ve passed on that there is Universal, unseen power, and that it is Love. They know I have quick chats with the power and meditation is God time. But there’s not been many semantics. I want them to experience their own magical stories of deep understanding.
So, in keeping with that, I’ve found it interesting to hear our boy’s thoughts. From a young age he’s talked about God in passing. It’s become regular conversation to hear him say “Oh yeah, when I was with God I saw that... or went there... or did that.” He believes we come back after death, he likes to talk about what he’ll come back as. I know he’s been here before.
So, I was curious to hear his version of creation vs evolution.
I told him about different ideas of creation stories. Which he took in stride and then I told him Darwin’s theory.
He burst out laughing. “That’s silly.” He replied.
I suggested sometimes people resemble apes or monkeys.
“Only in a Monkey suit mom.”
Now I know, Creation vs Evolution etc... hot topics I’m sure. But this isn’t saying anything about my perspectives or even proofs or theories. This is my boy’s. Our six year old boy. Sigh. (another moment)
Don’t you find it interesting that the more magical story, the more loving story, the enlightened spiritual story is the one that makes sense to him? The scientific, matter of fact, in your face story- is just silly.
We live in strange times. My husband pulled up this youtube video last night about this underground city.... an extensive catacomb of underground apartments created thousands of years ago. Scientists and Archaeologists are baffled at how and why this sort of construction could have been designed and created all that time ago. The program was made by and after describing the skill and miraculous structure they turned to the why. Their solution... some sort of Alien Invasion.
I’ve heard a lot about the theories of Aliens inspiring and creating things on earth lately. It seems to be the new default for things we can’t understand. We can’t have a spiritually inspired person, they must be possessed. We can’t have divine inspiration it must be from outer space. Our concepts of magic and wonder must be squished into a little box. One where things add up and make sense.
Do we always need outside data? Isn’t it a little exciting to look within our inner most hearts to hear truth?
I could have answered my boy’s question tonight with an answer. I could have chosen a system to believe and relayed it to him, forming his young mind to believe that I have all the answers. That I know the truth... when I don’t. I know what feels right to me, but it might not feel right to him. So, he was asked to answer first. It felt good. I told him it felt good.

Not silly at all. Just a little bit lovely, a little bit magical... and a little bit like a six year old growing up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Child Isn't a Joke

The situation would be frowned upon if it was about race or gender, but if it’s about children, society has no problem cracking a joke.
A seemingly harmless Facebook status about how hard it is to concentrate on work when surrounded by cute kids opens a gateway for generalized comments and jokes, such as “they’ll be doing something disgusting soon enough” or “Imagine them 10 years down the road stealing your car.” Somehow, even just the two word response “beat them” is considered funny. 
What? When did it become okay to make that sort of comment? 
Why is an age slur different than a race one and when are we as a society going to start treating our children as respected citizens?
2015 started off with many heated debates regarding free speech and what it meant. With the horrifying tragedies in Paris, some still questioned whether ridicule and criticism regarding any group was a fair representation of free speech. I have a problem with the statement “people should learn how to take a joke” especially since we are consistently battling bullying for our children in the schools. It feels like a mixed message.
We tell our children not to hurt others and to respect differences. We tell them to help others smaller than themselves, to see people as individuals and not stereotype groups. We encourage them to accept that others have different beliefs and cultures, but then, in grown up society, we can mock, sneer and jeer at whomever and whatever as long as it has a certain quality of wit. 
When I commented on the Facebook comment thread, simply saying that my kids were too incredible to be distracted from, I was told that “everyone loves their kids, but they like to laugh too.” I was being a killjoy. Because I was suggesting that children, individual human beings, who are at the beginning of learning about life, who are often struggling to adapt to adult surroundings and being expected to know how to be without being taught in simple steps, CHILDREN shouldn’t be laughed at, labelled as simply cute and stereotyped as people headed for trouble.
Is it social media that has us so cut off from basic consideration for others, both individually and as groups? Are we so desperately in search of that funny status that we’ll make fun of our loved ones or anyone standing too close?
I don’t even understand how it comes about. Why are children so often, generalized negatively when we were all young once? It’s not like different cultures where unless you live and breathe them it’s difficult to fully feel what they are. I remember being a child and my attempts at learning as I went along. Generalizing how I was going to behave based on my age often did me harm. In fact it left me isolated and confused. You remember, don’t you, that feeling of walking into a store and the staff watching you intently, and convinced you were going to sneak something into a pocket, all the while knowing it was usually the least suspecting that would shoplift.
In my mind any ridiculing of any stereotyped version of a group does one thing: it perpetuates more of that perspective. The power of words is that they create, they empower their message. The more we put focus on the mess children can create in their explorations, rather than on the excitement of their explorations themselves, the more it’s the mess we see. The more we comment on our children’s downfalls, even generalized downfalls which other people have made a joke of, the more we look to our children to back it up and the more we have a distorted view of who they are. It is like a projector goes up between us and them, and the image we watch of them is simply an image, no longer capable of personal connection.
My children and I laugh all the time. We joke about and have been known to raise passing people’s eyebrows with our giggles and goofy behaviour. However, they are being raised with the care not to make fun of things. If you make fun of something beautiful, even a fairytale, you will never see it the same way again. If you mock something then be prepared for your perspective to change forever. We’ve all occasionally watched a skit on a show like Saturday Night Live and repeat it in our minds with a laugh whenever we hear about the issue or person again. It’s the comic’s greatest legacy and responsibility to shift perspective to the humorous side. Do we want to change perspective of how we see our children?
We’re an ever evolving and developing human race. We are suppose to be forever moving forward, but we have to ask ourselves, can’t we learn that bullying is bullying, no matter the age or the cause, and that no victim should have to be told to “take a joke”. Verbal abuse is often in the form of ridicule and it is abuse, whether directed at one person or at a group, and generalization of children, like any group of people, simply creates walls against seeing people as individuals.

Our children, just like ourselves, are individuals. They sometimes make messes, make mistakes and occasionally act ridiculously cute, just like us. It’s all the process of this thing called life and all of us often need a helping hand of support not to be the butt of a Facebook joke.